Australian Lloyd Williams covets a record fifth Melbourne Cup. One of the world’s richest men and Dubai royalty wants to finally win his first.
Sheikh Mohammed’s royal blue colours and Williams’ navy blue will dominate the 24-strong Melbourne Cup field, in what will be a nightmare for veteran Melbourne Cup caller Greg Miles with only the jockey caps to differentiate their runners.
The Dubai ruler has been trying to win the Cup for two decades.
His global thoroughbred operation Godolphin has five chances on Tuesday, with Australian trainer John O’Shea’s Hartnell favourite for the $6.2 million race.
English trainer Charlie Appleby has Qewy and Oceanographer while fellow Godolphin trainer and regular Melbourne Cup contender Saeed bin Suroor has Secret Number and Beautiful Romance.
“To have two runners in the Melbourne Cup myself and Saeed’s obviously got his runners and John O’Shea’s got the favourite, so it’s a strong hand going into it,” Appleby said.
Appleby can understand the allure of the Melbourne Cup for his boss.
“It’s a race that every owner, horseman would love to win.
“We’ve obviously got hopefully some live shots there on Tuesday.
“We really want to win it. His Highness would like to win it for Godolphin.
“It would be a huge feather in our cap, in anybody’s cap.”
Bin Suroor has trained the runner-up in the Melbourne Cup three times.
He hopes to finally go one better.
“It would be great to win it,” bin Suroor said.
“It means a lot for us, for Dubai, for horse racing.
“This is the best race in the world, as a two miles race.
“It’s a brilliant race, very tough.”
The pull of the Melbourne Cup is just as strong for Williams, who won with Just A Dash (1981), What A Nuisance (1985), Efficient (2007) and Green Moon (2012).
It is the race dearest to the 76-year-old’s heart despite his success in the Ascot Gold Cup this year with Order Of St George.
“I’ve won lots of races over a period of time but this is the most important race to me anywhere in the world,” the Melburnian told RSN927 radio.
The retired businessman has four contenders: Assign, Gallante, Almandin and Bondi Beach, who he owns in partnership with thoroughbred racing and breeding operation Coolmore.
Part-owner and son Nick Williams won’t split the four.
“I rate them all,” he told AAP.
“You only have to look at last year’s race to know that you need a lot of luck in running to win this race,.
“We’re just fortunate to have four horses who are fit and well going to the barriers.
“If one of them happens to get the right run and have the luck in running we might be fortunate enough to win.”